Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

If you would like to submit a Cost of Living survey, you can answer the questions on line - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9S6HQCD

Approximate conversion rates as of December 12th, 2017

33 Baht to one US Dollar
44 Baht to one Pound Sterling
38 Baht to one Euro
25 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.65 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Martin

Working in Saudi Arabia

Monthly Earnings 364,000 baht

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

My monthly salary was 364,000 baht and that included a 65% transportation and rent allowance.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

My target was to save 300,000 each month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I shared a 3-bedroom villa with one other person. Each of us had an en-suite bedroom and we shared the kitchen. The rent was 18,000 baht per month so my share was 9,000 baht.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I chose to live near my school so my only transportation cost was the price of a nice bicycle. Over three years, this worked out at around 1,000 baht per month. If I wanted to travel further afield, I would hire a car for the weekend so maybe another 3,000 baht per month on average.

b) Utility bills

Electricity and water are subsidied by the government so even with 50+ degree summers, my AC never caused a bill of more than 500 baht. Usually, it was closer to 350 baht. Water was 100 baht, which is not bad for living in a desert!

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Western food was imported (therefore expensive) and this was my one big indulgence - so around 30,000 baht per month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife in KSA! That would be ZERO baht per month. There are no clubs, bars, cinemas, bowling alleys or any kind of public entertainment.

e) Books, computers

The internet was a lifeline for downloading TV programmes and books and cost 500 baht (1,000 baht split with my house mate).

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I don't drink or smoke so the heavy restrictions were not as big a concern for me as they can be for some. You have to prepare yourself both mentally and physically before taking the plunge and moving to the KSA. You are there to earn and save with a big sacrifice in terms of having a social life.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Petrol is subsidised so works out at around 6 baht per litre. Water and electricity are also a bargain.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Most (all?) people go to Saudi Arabia for the earning potential. I always considered 30% of my salary was for the work that I did and the other 70% was for having to endure being there. I survived and lived very well on around 50K baht per month but you would not want to work there for anything less than 250,000 per month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Martin for a very honest survey from the dunes.

Martin also had this to say - "my goal was to be able to return to Thailand without any money worries. My use of the past tense during the cost breakdown is an indication that this ' Saudi adventure' is now over and I have made it back to Thailand as of last month somewhat healthier, wealthier but maybe not so wiser"

I've heard it said many times Martin - you only go to teach in The Middle East for the money. But you did it and it sounds like it worked out well. 


Paul

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings About 170,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at an international school in Bangkok and my salary is 130K after tax for a Monday to Friday position. I also do part-time Saturday teaching and the occasional evening and whilst this amount varies greatly, it averages about 40,000 baht a month extra.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

It varies from month to month but I average about 100,000.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live with two other teachers. We share a three-bedroom condo near Asoke. It's 35,000 baht a month plus utilities, so my share is usually about 13,000.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

Asoke is great - we have the BTS, MRT, airport link and canal boats within walking distance. Which is great because the traffic is a nightmare! I rely on public transport and probably spend about 2,000 baht per month.

b) Utility bills

Utility bills are shared between three and usually come to 2,000 - 3,000 baht each (mostly for electricity).

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Again, Soi Asoke is great! Every cuisine I could imagine is within reach, unfortunately I have to pay for it and it comes to 15 - 20,000 a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

It's Asoke... clubs and bars of ALL types are here! I have one night out a week and spend a few thousand, so probably 15.000 - 20,000.

e) Books, computers

I spend almost nothing on books and computers as I have a school laptop and the library there is great.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Fantastic! I work hard (6 days a week) but enjoy life too. Then again, during the school holidays I usually only work Saturdays.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Accommodation - a large 3-bedroom condo in the middle of London (my home) would cost a LOT more! Taxis too, especially if you're sharing.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Who knows? Everyone is different. I'm sure it's possible to live on 30,000 and many locals clearly live on a lot less. As a qualified professional however, I wouldn't want to. I've recently turned thirty and realised I need to start saving for the future. The question I often ask myself is... how much should I be saving in order to survive in the future? My calculations tell me to save at least 60,000 a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

You are clearly doing well Paul and you obviously love that Asoke area of Bangkok.

I would be very interested (as I'm sure would many others) on how sharing a place with two other teachers works out. 

Personally, I never think humans are built to share living spaces, except with those we choose as our life partner and of course any children that may come along. 

I shared a small condo with an old schoolfriend many years ago. We moved in as best friends but after nine excruciatingly long months, I was on the verge of committing murder. It started with small things. He would blow his nose on a tissue and then leave the tissue on the dining room table. WHY? He would clean his stinky sports shoes in the bathroom. He would make a cup of tea and never wash his cup up after him. Over time, the small annoyances started to stack up and sharing a living space became a living nightmare. 

That was over 25 years ago. We haven't spoken since. 


Lloyd

Working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monthly Earnings 90,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn the equivalent of 90,000 baht (before tax) working at a mid-tier international school on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

It really depends on the month. If I have a weekend away, I save almost nothing but I think I regularly save around 25,000 baht in a normal month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a nice modern condo in a KL suburb and pay 13,500 baht a month. It takes just ten minutes to walk to the nearest MRT train station, so it's in a good location. The building also has a rooftop pool and gym.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I don't have a car so I take Grab and Uber to most places. This is cheap at first but can add up after a while. I think maybe 1,000-1,500 baht a month.

b) Utility bills

Lloyd did not answer this question.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Local food is very cheap and I will often eat this sort of stuff at school and also for breakfast but then I usually eat Western food in the evening. I eat mostly take-aways which adds another 10-12,000 baht to my food bill.

d) Nightlife and drinking

The nightlife in KL is fairly average and also expensive. I will often have a few beers on a Friday or Saturday and if you end up drinking after the happy hours have finished, this can end up expensive - maybe around 10,000 per month. I also play golf once a week for 750 baht and joined a gym and taekwondo club for around 1,500.

e) Books, computers

Lloyd did not answer this question.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I live a very Western lifestyle I guess, I can buy most Western items that I want at around the same price as back home. The lifestyle is more relaxed and the weather is sunny all year round. The biggest difference for me is the price of housing. I wouldn't be able to afford my own condo for the price I would need to pay back home.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Housing and street food

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I would say you can live on maybe 60,000 baht a month here and not live too different a lifestyle to back home.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you are our very first cost of living survey from Malaysia, Lloyd. 

I haven't been for many years but I always liked what I saw in KL and I can imagine it being a place where you can live a very Western lifestyle - if that's what you're after. 


Jo

Working in Shanghai

Monthly Earnings 116,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn the equivalent of 116,000 Thai baht a month. This includes working full-time at an international school and 4,000 baht/week is from doing two hours of private tutoring a week.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I save approximately 45,000 baht a month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Rents are quite high in Shanghai. I get 35,000 baht a month on top of my salary I quoted for housing. I use all of that rent subsidy to rent a one-bedroom apartment and that isn't downtown Shanghai.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I bicycle to my job and choose to live 20 minutes away. The subway is very cost efficient (20 baht on average) and goes everywhere as well

b) Utility bills

I have to pay approximately 4,000 baht for utilities (electricity, water, gas). Internet is cheap and you usually pay a fee for the entire year which is about 10,000 Thai baht a year. Electricity, water and gas are relatively inexpensive (800-1000 baht per month).

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My school pays for my lunch, which saves me some money. I eat out two to three times a week and mostly eat Western food. I spend quite a bit on Western food, about 2000 baht a week. I don't eat much Chinese food but it is cheaper than Western food. Food at the market can be costly for meat and imported food. Easily spend about 4-5000 baht a month on food from the market.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I go out a few times a month. Beer can be expensive (175 for local beer and up to 300 baht for imported beer)

e) Books, computers

I don't really buy English books in China as they are hard to find.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My standard of living is pretty good as I don't worry too much about spending. I don't go partying every weekend but spend money on travelling on holidays. I can still afford to save and travel some. I travel once or twice a year out of country. I do think the cost of living in Shanghai is high and it is very easy to overspend on entertainment and nightlife if you wanted to. You can easily spend money on drinks and food as well. Rents are high especially if you live closer to the center of the city.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Jo did not answer this question.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

You need at least 75,000 baht a month to live a decent life in my opinion, but I'm sure people live on less.

Phil's analysis and comment

Always good to hear from a teacher in China because it's quite often a popular next destination for those who have grown tired of Thailand.

You've suprised me with your 'at least 75,000 baht' figure Jo. I would have thought about 55-60k might be enough but you're the expert. 

It sounds like you live a very comfortable life there. Not much more I can add.


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at an international school in Bangkok and my full-time salary is 75K

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

20,000. I could save more but I enjoy my lifestyle.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

The rent on my condo is 9,000 baht a month and I get this as an allowance from the school on top of my salary.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I live only a two-minute walk from school so no costs here. However i would estimate my trips into the centre of Bangkok would be around 500 per month.

b) Utility bills

Electricity no more than 1,000 baht (I use the air-conditioning all the time whilst I am in my room). Water is 70 baht per month. Internet/phone/TV 800 per month.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is probably my biggest spend which can range anything from 4,000 - 14,000 depending if I eat local or sample some of the many exotic hotels here. Supermarket shopping I rarely do as I eat out or eat street food. I just visit the 7/11 or Tops for convenience items so I would guess around 2,000 per month on that as well.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I do enjoy the weekends whether it be at a sky bar or some other bars in the Sukhumvit area. I would guess around 8-12,000 here - just a young teacher living the dream!.

e) Books, computers

I had to purchase a new laptop recently due to mine breaking down so that was around 8,000. The school has a comprehensive library so I do not need to buy books.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Comfortable. I live in Bangkok so things are generally more expensive here but I still have enough money left over at the end of the month to save or keep for emergency costs. I can see myself staying here for quite some time.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Everything such as housing / food can be found significantly cheaper here than in the UK.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I guess if I adjusted my lifestyle I could generally live off around 35-40,000 in Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you've got the numbers right James for a young man who still enjoys the lure of those Sukhumwit neon lights. Saving 20,000 out of a 75,000 salary is not bad going and there's always the opportunity to save more with a few lufestyle adjustm,ents here and there.

The school paying for a 9,000 baht apartment is obviously a huge bonus as well. And just a two-minute walk to work. I bet that's nice.

Page 1 of 46 (showing 5 entries out of 229 total)

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